Terror in the Dressing Room

frog-pond-841839_640About ten years ago I had a frightening incident while trying on clothes at Macy’s. I went to buy myself some new clothes for Christmas. In those days no one bought clothes online. There were catalogs, but I preferred to go to brick-and-mortar shops, choose whatever caught my eye from the racks, and try things on. One of the items I tried on that day was an attractive lavender turtleneck sweater I found on the sale rack.

When I looked at myself in the dressing room mirror after I got the sweater on, I almost screamed. I managed, just barely, to stifle it. I was horrified to see that the sweater had pushed up the loose flesh of my neck to form a spare tire bulging between the top of the high, snug-fitting collar and my chin. I looked like a puffed-up bullfrog. A bullfrog sending out a mating call.

“How are you doing in there?” the sales woman asked sweetly from outside the dressing room door, a tinge of concern in her voice.

“Fine,” I lied. Apparently I had not managed to stifle the entire scream. Some squeaked out for the sales woman to hear. Or riveted out, more accurately. Well, I thought, what would that sweet, firm young thing know about how frightening a spare tire made of neck flesh can be? She was twenty-something, I was sixty.

How had this state of affairs, of my neck I should say, escaped me for so long? I had no idea it was that saggy. It was a huge shock to me, but such a condition can’t have blown up overnight. I had developed turkey neck, a condition many of us senior women get unless we have cosmetic surgery, only instead of sagging it was being pushed up by a turtleneck collar. I realized with dismay that I had a couple of turtleneck sweaters at home. I hoped I hadn’t been going around looking like I did in the mirror. I hadn’t been paying attention. Hopefully their necklines weren’t as snug as the one I was trying on.

It was an afternoon of brutal Truth. I realized my neck was just one of many conditions of aging creeping up on me. Galloping up. Bags were starting to form under my eyes, I had gained a bit of weight, I had a few liver spots, and skin damage from the vain, reckless sunbathing of my youth. A basal cell carcinoma, above my right eye, was successfully removed but the surgery had left a crater. Deep vertical creases had sprouted at the sides of my mouth and I looked sort of like a puppet.  Turkey neck, temporarily transformed into bullfrog neck, is just one of the many dents and scratches resulting over time from that big messy collision called life. Today I cheerfully accept them, as well as the fact that there will be more as time goes on. After all, consider the alternative (and I’m not talking about cosmetic surgery). I’ll gladly take my dents and scratches over that any day.

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6 thoughts on “Terror in the Dressing Room

  1. OMG. I know … I remember Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About my neck. At the time my neck was still firm and taut… not so much now! Loved this.

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  2. It is so traumatizing the first time you see some of these changes in the mirror instead of the “minds eye” of how you once knew them – reality can pack a good punch! :p

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